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L.W. Lower, “A Long Lane Gathers No Moss: L.W. Lower decides to give up Proverbs and lead the simple life,” The Australian Women’s Weekly, June 25, 1938, p. 13.

I was always hot on uplift and kind thoughts and good deeds. Well, not so much the good deeds, but I’m just crawling with kind thoughts on most occasions.

Now I’ve got a new pocket book with a special sort of calender in it, I’ll be able to get better and better every time I look at it. It’s got a Thought for the Day on every leaf.

“Habits are at first cobwebs; at last cables.” “The secret of life is not to do what one likes, but to try to like what one has to do.” Oh, yeah?

“The greatest truths are the simplest; so are the greatest men.” Phooey.

These proverbs have done more harm than can ever be calculated.

That “Early to bed, early to rise” one, for instance. I had so much of that as a child that nowadays I only go to bed when I’m in a state of exhaustion and collapse. My idea is that if you don’t go to bed you don’t have the bother of getting up.

I’ve got a nephew with similar ideas. “Always remember,” I told him, “a stitch in time saves nine.”

“What are you talking about?” he replied. “I can’t stitch.”

“It’s a proverb,” I explained.

“What’s a proverb?”

“A proverb — well … Ah, go to bed! Always asking silly questions!”

You can’t do anything with a boy like that. He’ll probably grow up without any moral sense, make a fortune, and be knighted.

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.” It’d be hard to think of anything daffier than that.

The Editor has one of these things. I suppose that’s why he told me the other day that “constant dripping wears away a stone.” I looked hard at him for a while, decided that he was perfectly sober, and put it down to overwork.

One good thing, now that I have this proverb calendar of my own, I’ll be able to get one back on him.

“Be wiser than other people if you can, but do not tell them so.” That one ought to topple him.

My grandfather had a proverb for every occasion. Boiled down, what they all meant was, “Don’t enjoy yourself; it annoys me.”

Supposing a man came and served you with a summons and said, “It’s always darkest before the dawn. Every cloud has a silver lining. Let this be a lesson to you that a stitch in time saves nine and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Morally, you’d be quite entitled to tramp on him.

Very Perplexing

If I took any notice of my proverb calendar I would be going to bed at six o’clock at night and getting up at four in the morning. I would be casting bread into the water where it would sink immediately, and I would be dashing about striking irons while they were hot.

For which conduct I would probably be taken to the Reception House and kept under guard.

The world seems to be full of people who insist on telling you what to do. Leaving out the bans on murder and shop-lifting and kindred crimes, such as not crossing the street at right-angles, it’s astonishing the number of things I’m not allowed to do. My doctor told me last week to cut out smoking, drinking, and eating meat. Then he had the nerve to charge me for it!

My wife told me not to stay out late, not to waste my money on horses, not to throw my hat on the table, not to go out just when the dinner is ready … oh, well, you know it all.

Moral advice has a strange effect on me.

If anyone warns me about some gambling hell which should be avoided at all costs I’m always there waiting on the mat to get in. It’s not perversity. It’s just curiosity. Anyhow, that’s my theory, and I’ll stick to it.

Now I come to think it over, the more I look at this proverb calendar the less I like it.

Once, I was happily ignorant of the date and I didn’t know or care about “great oaks from little acorns grow” and “a penny saved is a penny gained.”

Now, glancing at the cursed thing I find that I’ve been doing the wrong thing ever since I could walk.

My philosophy of life is different, I am going to throw away my highly moral calendar and buy myself an egg-timer.

I’m doomed to eternal perdition, I know, but I won’t have that calendar reminding me all the time.